Brooksville taps new manager

The council chooses the former general services manager for Seminole in a close vote.

Published May 3, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - Mitchell N. Bobowski won the race to become Brooksville's next city manager, but the selection was hardly a landslide.

The first vote of the City Council Tuesday night had him tied with the sole local applicant, Jennene Norman-Vacha, former deputy administrator for Hernando County.

In the second vote, Bobowski, the former general services manager for the city of Seminole, earned 13 points to Norman-Vacha's 12.

The council extended its congratulations and directed Mayor David Pugh and city attorney David La Croix to begin contract discussions with Bobowski.

"We're negotiating. That's all I'm going to say, " La Croix said Wednesday afternoon.

Bobowski said Wednesday that he was optimistic that an agreement can be reached quickly. "I'm very happy to have been selected as Brooksville's next city manager, " he said. "The process was tough and to the point."

Bobowski said the council made all the candidates feel comfortable and he expressed excitement at starting the new challenge.

"Our best days are still ahead, " he said.

The contract discussions will include issues such as pay, start date, severance and benefits. If the parties reach agreement quickly, the execution of the contract could happen at Monday's regular council meeting.

Council member Richard Lewis said he wanted the manager to live within the city limits, a requirement also set for the previous administrator, Richard Anderson.

Other council members agreed to forward their specific contract issues to La Croix so they could be considered in the negotiation process.

Bobowski's selection came at the end of a grueling two-day touring, interviewing and meeting-and-greeting process for the three finalists that culminated in formal interviews before the council Tuesday evening.

During his interview, Bobowski told the council he would strive to provide a collaborative atmosphere in which he worked with the council and the mayor. His goal was to make sure the council was equally informed on issues and he would "avoid taking sides when the council is divided."

Bobowski, 55, an Army veteran who spent his last seven years in Seminole, cited his own strong sense of ethics and his belief in an "open door policy" to keep lines of communication open within the city.

Council member Lara Bradburn asked the finalists to describe Brooksville's future.

"I hope the city doesn't change, " Bobowski said. "What I see out there now is a very charming place to live, do business and have fun."

He said the city had potential to grow and noted that, if the city properly managed that growth, "the future can be anything you want it to be."

Bobowski expressed concern about possible funding challenges as state lawmakers consider drastic changes in the state's taxing structure. "That could have wide and significant impacts, " he said.

Bobowski, currently of Madeira Beach, worked from 1987 through 1994 for the city of Hazel Park, Mich., including time as city manager there.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or 352 754-6117.